How to get there. La Perouse is at the end of Anzac Parade, 14 km south of Sydney’s CBD. It is serviced by Sydney Buses route 394 which depart Circular Quay … I would like to add here that if any Aboriginal person is reading this blog that I mean no disrespect in the use of the term Dreaming. If you read on you will, hopefully understand the great connection I had with the sea and the beaches.
That says it all, or does it? In future posts there will be insightful prose, or perhaps a Haiku or two. I may even waffle on about my great love of the place, and the thrills and adventure I found there. Dreaming in this context is based on the Aboriginal concept of Dreamtime, that period in their belief system when their world was created. When land features, animals and great warriors came into existence. My world at the time shifted dramatically with two moves after arriving in Australia. The old established order of my life vanished, the structured existence of Hostel life instigated a change in kids. Discovery and adventure were the order of the day. We moved from Bunnerong Hostel in mid 1961 to live in Elaroo Avenue. I won’t give its number, suffice to say it fronted Botany Bay. The sand hills and oil refinery at Kurnell stood out on the southern horizon. The heads could be seen on the left and Mascot airport was a smudge on the landscape to the right. On the other side of the road stood an Aboriginal Mission. The land dipped away like a large bowl and small white painted wooden houses dotted the rim. The Methodist Chapel sat up the road, and below that in one edge of the bowl a small group of tin humpies nestled together. Aboriginal Elders spent hours sitting outside these humpies, making artefacts for the tourist trade. At times my brother and I would sit near them and watch. They accepted two little, extremely white boys and allowed us to stay as long as we wished. Past the mission and on to Frenchman’s Beach a jetty with a two storey building on it juts out into the bay from the rocks. There were only the three children in our family then, my older sister, myself and a brother six years my junior. Due to the age differences this gave me time to get away on my own and explore this wondrous new world I found myself in. So here we go:
Dark brown faces wrinkle in laughter.
Cataract covered eyes that have
witnessed great change glow with a
mixture of laughter and grog.
Gnarled, arthritic hands wield shards
of broken glass, revealing the beauty of a
Nulla Nulla, from a lump of wood.
A collection of fresh boomerangs lie on the
ground. Wood transformed, waiting
I watch in awe as an old man throws them
one by one. They swish through the air in a
huge arc and come flying back to him
like frightened children.
Catching them with a clap of his hands
he places them in his basket.
Light blue smoke rises from their fire,
The women feed it to heat the billycan
for their tea and then return to their shell work.
A man plucks an old soldering iron
from the coals. Its glowing end burns
into the wood unveiling kangaroos,
koalas and even the Harbour Bridge.
We have to go, our legs, aching from squatting
need to be stretched. Now the boomerangs have
gone, a group boys race out with a rugby ball.
Laughing, screeching we run ourselves ragged.
Age nor race matters, there’s a game to be played.
Laurie Smith© 2013
Even now I dream about you.
I remember the first summer’s day.
I made my way through thick grass,
that held the dunes together.
You opened before me.
Tender feet used to the
pebbles of cold northern beaches
sank into your squeaky sand.
I hopped to the water’s edge
and your warm waters soothed my soles.
Jellyfish lay on the edge of the tide.
Dark blue tentacles waiting to trap the unwary.
You only go near them once.
Boatsheds leaning on sinking stumps,
weathered planks stripped of paint.
Doorways open, staring. Glimpsing
inside, a jumble of nets and floats
smother a fishing boat, older than
A two storey café sits on the rocks,
I can’t miss the jetty jutting out
of it. Tourists wander down
from the snake show, for morning
tea and cake. Aboriginal boys leap
off the railings into the calm sea,
while white people throw coins.
Oohing and ahhing I run across the
hot, splintered planks. Looking down
I see the smiling faces, eagerly waiting
for a penny. If they’re lucky a shiny sixpence
may come their way.
‘Lady, lady throw us a penny.’
Sunlight reflects off the copper coin as it
arcs through the air. Splish.
Several faces disappear, legs waving
in the air, they’re gone. The quickest
resurfaces, mouth open, coin on his
pink tongue for all to see.
Unsure, I walk to the end of the jetty,
away from the crowd.
The sea laps at the ramp, hiding,
then revealing the barnacles clinging
to the wooden pylons.
Taking a breath I stand on the edge,
stare for a moment
and try not to think too much about sharks,
then dive down below the surface.
I hold my breath.
Opening my eyes I surface,
and like Venus rising from the foam,
My Dreaming has begun.
Laurie Smith© 2013
My sister and brother in the front yard, with the Aboriginal Mission homes and Botany Bay in the background, The colour photo was taken in 2006 on my video camera. (not a great shot)
Yours truly on the front steps of the house. Yes I had Bucky Beaver teeth, however the great tan and attractive white T shirt and shorts made up for it.